Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm back from a fun week-long trip with the Slinkard clan (Kerry's family) to the Big Island of Hawaii. Here is a link to our photos.

Monday morning (stiff and sore with only 4 hours of sleep after our New Years Eve mishap) Kerry and I hopped on the plane and met everyone else at the Royal Kona Resort near the beach town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. After checking into our room and changing out of our cold and rainy weather Portland clothes, we headed down to Don's Mai Tai Bar for an evening of oceanside food and drinks.

Tuesday morning we all piled into our Grand Marquee rental car and drove out to Volcanoes National Park on the other side of the island. It was an interesting drive and we crossed many older lava flows along the way. The main visitors center lies on the rim of a giant caldera with a rather large crater in the middle. After eating lunch at the visitor center we drove down the Chain of Craters Road toward the coast were the active lava flows are at dumping into the sea. The road itself is cutoff at around the 19 mile mark by a recent flow. We had hoped to drive close enough to the active flows to see the lava but it was too far across the new Hawaiian real estate to hike there and back before sunset. Interestingly the USGS has a eruption & lava flow report similar to the avalanche & snow pack reports we have from NOAA here in the PNW.

Wednesday was a down day and we relaxed pool side reading, playing cards, drinking Mai Tai's and cooling off in the pool.

Thursday we grabbed an early morning inter-island shuttle and flew to Honolulu to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial itself was somber and well done, but the visitor center had a definite tourist trap feeling to it. It was overcrowded and the gift shop had the standard cheap trinkets you find at any of America's war related sites. After the memorial we headed to Waikiki Beach for lunch at Lulu's before flying back to Kona.

Friday Kerry's brother Bryan aka "the Ironman" and I aka "the Mountainman" decided to hike/climb up Mauna Kea, Hawaii's highest peak. Although there is a access road to the top for the astronomers we opted to take the Mauna Kea-Humu'ula Trail which parallels the access road most the way before joining the road for the last mile. The hike itself is on a relatively easy trail, however it starts at 9,200 feet and then goes 6.5 miles through a barren wasteland of scree to the summit at 13,796 feet. Considering our acclimation at sea level the challenge was in the rapid elevation gain, only 5.5 hours from sea level to 13,796 feet. The weather was mostly cloudy but we did get a view of the slightly lower Mauna Loa through the clouds to the south. We spent about 20 minutes on the summit taking photos, eating lunch and admiring the array of telescopes before descending back to the car.

Saturday was another down day for us and we spent it relaxing at Hapuna Beach about 30 miles north of Kona. I tried boogie boarding for the first time and completely enjoyed myself in the surf. That night we had an amazing sunset dinner overlooking the ocean at Huggo's.

Sunday morning everyone but Kerry and I took off to fly home. Our only flight option to Portland was a late night red eye so we spent Sunday morning wandering around Kona and then ate lunch at the Kona Inn Restaurant, a historic hotel turned restaurant and shops which looked like it would have been THE place to stay in its day. Sunday afternoon we spent playing cards and drinking more Mai Tai's by the pool. On our flight home we got bumped to first class because the plane was overbooked - the perfect ending to a great trip.

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